While most students of the banjo, guitar or mandolin recognize that learning an instrument will take both time and patience, there are a few who feel that they should progress further in a shorter period of time. A student will say to me, “I have been playing for a year already and I’m just not getting better”. To this student, a year seems like a long time. Quite the contrary, a year of studying and practicing music (including taking music lessons), is an insignificant period of time. In fact, a serious student can expect to play for many years before he or she becomes more comfortable with playing an instrument. It may take six or seven years before you actually feel you are reaching a level where playing songs is appealing to both you and an audience.
Practice Pays Dividends
When a students exhibits their frustration in this manner, a teacher such as myself, has to ask a few questions. First, how much time are you practicing? Second, are you practicing every day? If you step away from your instrument for a week, it will show in your playing. Similarly, if you practice a song for a period of time and then let that song sit for weeks, you will quickly forget the song. You see, practicing a banjo, guitar, mandolin or any other instrument requires dedication and commitment. Otherwise, the limited time you invest in practicing your instrument will not yield the results that you may expect. I am sure you have heard the saying “You get what you pay for.” In musical terms, the saying is “You get out of your instrument what you put into it.”
So the next time you sit down to practice your banjo, guitar or mandolin, use your time wisely. Do the hard work. Play some scales. Practice a strumming technique. Play some rolls or work on your tremolo or vamping technique. Take a small break but make sure you return and practice some more. Practice a minimum of an hour a day and if you can help it, don’t go a day without practicing. Remember ………